How to Remove Paint from a Brick Fireplace

Eric H.
September 8, 2020

It’s common for homeowners with painted fireplaces to ask, “Can I remove paint from a brick fireplace?

The answer is yes, but removing the paint from your brick fireplace can be a tedious process. Make sure you really want to remove it before you start.

In many cases, a better option is to paint over the fireplace with a new color or use a specialty paint kit to get a natural brick look using just paint.

Remember, it’s likely that you don’t know what the brick under the paint looks like. You’ll probably end up revealing a dark red, outdated brick that is uglier than a fresh coat of paint would have been.

You may uncover an antique brick that you love. However, you won’t know what brick you’ll uncover until you start. Once you apply the paint remover, it’s hard to go back.

If you decide that removing the paint is the best option, start by considering the size of your fireplace.  If you have a lot of painted brick, you may want to hire a professional. This is a super tedious and time consuming process, and it’s not something you’ll want to stop halfway through. If your fireplace is small, you may want to skip the cost of hiring someone and do it yourself.

It’s easy to find paint strippers at local hardware stores or online. Some strippers have a gel or paste consistency and others are thin as water.

Look for products made for use on masonry. You may also want to look for products that don’t produce lots of toxic fumes.

If you know whether the brick is covered in oil or latex based paint, get a stripper made for that type of paint. I also recommend asking an expert at your local hardware store for recommendations or looking at reviews online.

Some people recommend sandblasting or pressure washing brick to remove the paint. However, this typically ends up damaging the surface of the brick and mortar.

This could result in needing to repair the brick or replace it completely. Unstable brick is not good building material, and you definitely don’t want it in your home.

Must-Have Materials

If you’re going to be doing this yourself, here is a list of materials you’ll need and some step-by-step instructions. The process itself is quite simple, but it’s slow going so put on some music or your favorite podcast to keep you company.

  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Mask (optional depending on the stripper you choose)
  • Drop clothes and tape
  • Paint stripper and the tools it recommends. This could include:
    • Wire brush
    • Steel wool
    • Putty scraper
    • Rags
    • Paint brush
  1. Start by testing the stripping agent you chose on an inconspicuous portion of the brick.  This will give you an idea of how many layers of paint there are and how much time the project will take.
  2. Prepare your area by laying down a drop cloth at minimum.  You may want to cover the walls with a sheet as well so you don’t accidentally fling a bit of paint stripper onto your painted walls.
  3. Put on your protective equipment and apply the paint stripper as indicated on the packaging.  Different stripping agents require different application methods.  Some may need to sit on the brick for an extended period of time before you wipe them away.
  4. As you’re going through the paint removal process, you’ll notice that the porous surface of the brick may retain paint in a few recessed areas.  You can try scraping and scrubbing this away or applying a little more paint remover in certain areas.
  5. Be sure to remove the cleaner properly.  Some cleaners may need to be rinsed away thoroughly or rinsed with soap and water.

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